Argentina's 1833 myth - a "Population Expelled" - De-bunked yet again...!
The above photograph of pages comes from a book by the well-known Argentine historian Ernesto J. Fitte, La Agresión NorteAmericana a las Islas Malvinas, Emecé Editores, Buenos Aires, 1966.
Fitte’s book lists all the documents leading up to, and following, the raid by the US warship Lexington (in December 1831/January 1832) It was, of course, that raid that forced Britain to act to protect its sovereignty rights. And it was that same raid, and the failure of the subsequent negotiations between the Americans and Argentines, that led to the Argentine decision to send its garrison. It was that garrison - and only that garrison - that Britain expelled.
Fitte's book goes into the American involvement in great detail as it is so important to specialist historians. But Argentine politicians don’t mention the American role nowadays, so as to be able to blame Britain for everything.
As you know all of Vernet's European settlers, and most of his black slaves, had left on the Lexington in January 1832, a year before HMS Clio arrived. And Captain Onslow's orders were not to molest any civilians. In fact, he was anxious that Vernet's gauchos should stay on so they could continue to hunt the wild cattle and so be able to supply fresh beef to visiting ships - and most of them did.
Of the civilians, only the gauchos Joaquin Acuña (who was actually Brazilian) and Mateo Gonzalez, and their women left. Only they were considered to be genuine islanders by the Argentine in charge at the time, José María Pinedo, the Commander of the Sarandí, the Argentine ship that had landed the garrison at Port Louis on the 6th October 1832.
The Sarandí left again on the 4th January 1833, and the Rapid on the 5th. So the garrison had been there just less than three months.
All of the people leaving could have got on the Sarandí, but the Argentine mutineers that had murdered their commander Mestivier on the 30th of November 1832, had been rounded up by loyal gauchos and the crew of a French whaling vessel, and placed in irons onboard the British sealing schooner Rapid. That had been at Port Louis by chance, undergoing repair, when the mutiny had taken place, and the Argentine survivors had chartered it to take the mutineers to Buenos Aires, while the Sarandí was away. The Rapid was still there when the Clio arrived on the 2nd January 1833.
It’s all very important as the Argentines now use the falsehood that Britain expelled the "population" of the Falklands as their principle argument to justify their refusal to accept Islander self-determination.
Cisneros did that in the recent exchange with Pepper. But it’s quite absurd to consider that such a tiny garrison, which had been there less than three months, during which time had caused chaos, and whose departure from Buenos Aires had provoked as British diplomatic protest, can be considered a “population”. The Argentine garrison in 1982 was there for 74 days before they surrendered. If they had held out for another couple of weeks, would they have suddenly become a population?